Yes, for my second time now, I’ve left Disneyland.
I’m very sad, but it had to be done. I loved being at the park. Disneyland is an amazing place not only to play, but to work. There really is magic there. And getting to actually drive the steam locomotives that Walt Disney drove, getting to wave to the guests as we pull through the station, hearing that chuffing and feeling the heat of the boiler are experiences that I will remember and treasure forever!
My last shift on the engine was on the C. K. Holliday, engine #1. My engineer that night was Mike Miller. I got a shot of him and I just after we parked the engine in the roundhouse. The funny thing is, if you look at the picture of me at the end of my first shift (which was also on the C. K. Holliday) and my last shift, it looks like I just cut and pasted a different person to my left. Check out the attached picture of my last shift.
I got to work on all five engines, with some amazing people. I got to hang out in the roundhouse. I got to pull all five engines out of the roundhouse, and backed all five in. I got to run past the entire train waving to guests sitting in the cars after the conductor had called all aboard. I got to walk on the tracks all the way around the park, including walking through the diorama with the lights on and with the lights off. I got to do things that most people will never get to do. People are always so excited to take a ride on the tender, but I got to ride each of the engines A LOT. Wonderful memories.
I wish I could have stayed for a long time, but the hours were too prohibitive. When I first interviewed, I was told explicitly three times during the interview that I would only be getting 10 to 15 hours a week. That’s all they had to give. I told them that was fine, because I had my own consulting business. I knew training would take 40 hours each week for the first month and a half, but after that, I needed the hours to drop off. They didn’t. In fact, spring break brought on 50+ hours each week. And that wasn’t even summer.
My clients started suffering, and although $12+ per hour 30+ hours a week is generous for Disney, but it still isn’t as good as working only a couple days a week for $60 or $80 per hour. Consulting had to come first.
I talked to my manager two months before I was going to leave to talk about hours. He assured me that "help is on the way." Well, summer came on, and although there were three new people hired or being trained, we had lost at least that many in the previous few months. Nothing was going to change. I gave my manager a pointed letter stating that I was available Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, but not more than that, and if they couldn’t accommodate and make a good business decision, that I would leave. He said that he didn’t want to lose me, and would see what he could do.
Well, my second to last day he came up and shook my hand and say "It’s been a pleasure working with you." That’s just amazing. Disney chose to overwork the remaining people and pay huge amounts of overtime pay, rather than keeping someone to work during the most needed times. So, I took my leave and was sad to go.
Now, after being a Tour Guide and Engineer at Disneyland, I’ve had some amazing opportunities and experiences. What else can I say. I do love the place, and I hope to do a couple of projects about it sometime soon.